Notices of default, the start of the foreclosure process, in California increased 19.7% in February, while the amount of foreclosed homes for sale remained near record levels, according to ForeclosureRadar. At the same time, the number of foreclosures slipped nearly 12%. “The disconnect between delinquencies, and foreclosure sales continues to widen,” says Sean O’Toole, Founder and CEO of ForeclosureRadar.com. “While efforts to slow foreclosures are clearly working, it remains unclear that anything has yet addressed the core problem of excess household mortgage debt.” ForeclosureRadar tracks foreclosure data in California and provides updates on auctions. Notices of default increased to 31,004 in February after rising on a daily average of 9.7% in January. Filings of notices of trustee sales, which set the date and time of the foreclosure auction, rose 3.6% in February to 28,195 filings. Despite the increase on the front-end of the foreclosure process, the back end – actual foreclosures – decreased 11.9% in February. California led all states with 205,606 active trial modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which would interrupt the foreclosure process before sale. The US Treasury Department launched HAMP in March 2009 to provide incentives to servicers for the modification of loans on the verge of foreclosure. To date, the 113 servicers started more than 1m trial modifications. The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program -- which launches April 5, 2010 -- also could cinch the foreclosure process further. Once the loans foreclose, banks are continuing to resell the real estate owned (REO) property in a timely manner, according to ForeclosureRadar. California REO inventories remained flat from January to February, rising only 1.15%. However, the amount of homes scheduled for sale – meaning they haven’t hit the market yet – remained 126% above levels in February 2009. According to the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P), it would take three years to move through the amount of foreclosed homes that haven’t reached the national market. Write to Jon Prior.